Winter is here! Snow is falling, water is crystalizing, and hot chocolate is once again an acceptable accompaniment to any meal. Pretty soon, Omaha will be a magical winter wonderland—offering plenty of opportunities for skating, sledding, skiing and more.
To help you maximize the season, we’re sharing several outdoor winter adventures worth embarking on in the area, from igloo dining to ice fishing. As always, we encourage you to wear a mask during every activity and to social distance as much as possible. Have a great winter!
Have you ever wanted to dine in an igloo? Even if it was never on your mind before, it should be now! Several local businesses along with The Capitol District have set up several socially distanced orbs that look a little like igloos, snow globes and other wintery scenes. The Capitol District’s igloos cost $100 for 2.5 hours and can fit up to six people from your own household. Tiny House Bar has also set up a few adorable igloos on their patio, which you can rent for $150 for 1.5 hours—with $100 of that going towards your final tab.
We love snow and all the winter activities that come with it—snowshoeing, snowball fights, skiing, oh my! But while we love throwing a snowball as much as anyone, our favorite activity by far is sledding. Conveniently located in the heart of Omaha, Memorial Park is one of the most popular sledding destinations in the region. The large hill attracts sledders both young and old to join in the fun, and you’ll likely see everything from tubes and saucers to old-fashioned wooden rigs. It truly is a winter paradise! If you’re looking for other places to sled in the Omaha area this season, check out our guide, The Best Sledding Hills in the Omaha Area, Mapped.
Visit a beach
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We know, the word “beach” isn’t normally associated with winter — or Nebraska, for that matter. But it should be! Eastern Nebraska is actually full of large waterways like lakes, ponds and rivers that offer soft sandy beaches ripe for exploring. And in the winter, these gorgeous beaches become icy paradises, offering views of frozen waves, snowy banks, interesting wildlife and more. Click here for our guide to beaches within a short drive from Omaha!
Play a round of disc golf
Who says golf is only for the warmer months? While traditional golf may not be feasible right now, disc golf is just as fun as ever! There are several courses all across the Omaha area for every skill level. The course at Seymour Smith Park will help you get started. Afterward, head to the Links at Lake Cunningham, which offers challenging obstacles and wooded areas. Then, for a final round, don’t miss Treasure Cove Disc Golf Course in Council Bluffs, which features an 18-hole course with exciting, technical shots.
Next to sledding and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing is one of our favorite local outdoor winter activities. There’s just something special about seeing our favorite Omaha destinations covered in snow. But you’ll need some special shoes to capture the magic! A favorite local snowshoeing spot is Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, a gorgeous park that features 24 miles for you to traverse. If you don’t own your own snowshoes, you can rent some for just $5 depending on availability. We recommend calling ahead to reserve your pair and to make sure the conditions are good for snowshoeing the day you’d like to go.
While Nebraska might not have the Northern Lights, our many large, open flat areas are perfect for stargazing! Just head out to an open space, park your car, and spend a few hours looking up at the stars. A few local places we love to go include Zorinsky Lake Park or Eugene T. Mahoney State Park in Ashland.
Try your hand at ice fishing
If you love fishing in the summer, we’re prepared to bet you’ll love it in the winter, too. While the process—and the temperature—are going to be a bit different, both activities offer excitement and serenity in equal measure. Chalco Hills at Wehrspann in Papillion is a local favorite, regularly stocked with bass, catfish, crappie, walleye and sunfish. Standing Bear is also a great spot for ice fishing, as it is regularly stocked with trout and other common Nebraska fish. If you’re new to the sport, DAB Fishing Guide Service is a great way to learn! They offer ice fishing tutorials for $250 for two people and kids are always free. Click here for all the information.
Go bird watching
Sandhill cranes and bald eagles have made Nebraska one of the best places in the country to go birdwatching! In fact, more than 400 species of birds have been found in Nebraska, and winter is a great time to see many of them—including the elusive bald eagle. A few of the best places to spot amazing birds in the Omaha area include Towl Park, Walnut Grove, Heron Haven, Chalco Hills Recreation Area, and Fontenelle Forest. If you’re interested in turning bird-watching into your new hobby, check out this amazing article from the Omaha World-Herald that features Audubon Society of Omaha president Bob Wells’ beginner’s guide to birding.
Go on a bundled-up bike ride
Cycling isn’t just a warm-weather sport anymore! While winter biking requires different skills and techniques than other times of year, it offers a world of exploration opportunities. You will need a bike for winter cycling, like a mountain bike or tricycle, or you can invest in some studded tires for traction. Warm winter clothing is also very important—base layers, wind-blocking, thick clothing and good boots are all essential when riding when it’s cold outside. Once you’re prepared, you can head out to one of Omaha’s many biking trails and get started! For more helpful tips and tricks, check out the Bike Omaha Blog.
Take a horse-drawn carriage ride
Winter is the perfect time of year for a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride through Old Market. For the full effect, bundle up and venture out on a snowy evening! You can make a reservation online, but walk-ups are always welcome for when the mood strikes. Drivers will be wearing a mask for your protection and while face coverings aren’t required to ride, they are heavily recommended.
One of our favorite (and arguably, most underrated) things to do in the Omaha area during winter is to grab a cup of hot chocolate from a local coffee shop, and spend the morning exploring one of Omaha’s many adorable neighborhoods. Dundee Double Shot, located in Dundee, has been a staple in the community for over 10 years, with a menu boasting over 32 roasts and a variety of delicious food items—including new hot cocoa bombs! Stop in for a chocolatey treat and spend the morning perusing everything Dundee has to offer! As with every activity on this list, we encourage you to wear a mask and to stay at least 6 feet from other people during your walk.
Let it Snow!
What local outdoor winter activities in Omaha did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!